by Adam Wilson, Discipleship director at our Blacksburg campus
Jesus anointed at Bethany (Matthew 26:6-13)
“Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at the table. And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. Truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.” – Matthew 26:6-13
After Jesus has been teaching in Jerusalem all day on Wednesday, he spends time at a leper’s house in the town of Bethany. Suddenly a nameless woman appears to expend an expensive bottle of ointment in preparation for Jesus’ burial. Rather than responding positively, the disciples are outraged at the utter waste of what could have been money for the poor, a very noble cause.
Jesus corrects their judgement of the woman’s act as a reckless waste and tells them of the beauty of what she has really done. This nameless woman has performed a beautiful act of worship, however the disciples are so blind with outrage that they see it as a “waste”. How have the disciples missed the mark so far and mistaken worship for waste? They had elevated a good cause (serving the poor) above the exaltation of the Son. In this moment, serving God efficiently became more important than worship of a holy God. At the core, I believe the disciples were more concerned about elevating themselves for serving the poor than exalting Jesus.
When we think of ourselves, I believe we can relate to the disciples all too much. So often I find myself busied with ministry or Christian activity without the heart of worshipping Christ. When someone comes along that is worshipping God in abandonment I can feel that jealously or indignation that the disciples felt. The nameless woman is an encouragement to us because she faithfully worships Jesus without hindrance of those mocking or upset with her doing so. She does not let her exaltation of Jesus be thwarted by others.
God has called us to many good causes and to love the people in this world well, however the greatest calling he has given us in the white-hot worship of Himself. I pray we never mistake the beautiful worship and exaltation of Christ as a waste.
How have you put efficiency in serving God above the worship and exaltation of Him?
Are there ways that you do Christian activity with a heart of self exaltation rather than exalting Christ? When do you really want others to see or know how good of a Christian you’re being?
When have other influences (ie. the opinions of others) thwarted or hindered your worship of God. What is at the heart of letting these things hinder us?
May we renounce any hindrances to our worship of the King as we celebrate the resurrection this Sunday!
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